|In case you didn't know how to click a link to figure out what I'm talking about.|
The actual session was a mini-adventure put together by Fantasy Flight, the company that produced the game. The story elements of the session aren't really important, although it was fun. It was definitely made for beginners, as the players are gradually introduced to the various elements of the system, such as the dice, skill and combat mechanics, space combat, even character advancement.
(See the rest below the fold.)
The dice deserve some discussion, as they distinguish the game from those that came before it.
|Just to make things perfectly clear.|
The game measures success/failure on the basis of the dice above. There are positive markers (success and advantage) and negative markers (failure and threat). Success/failure cancel each other out, but as long as you have one net success, you generally get to do what you set out to do. Advantage/threat work the same way, but act as a secondary track. For example, enough advantage will turn a hit into a crit, or offer a secondary benefit, such as gleaning a personal secret from an NPC. Most the time, all it does is add bonus or setback dice (the blue/black dice above.) The triumph and despair symbols represent critical success/failure.
Your skills are represented by a dice pool. You start off with a number of the green dice; if you're really good with the skill, you get more dice, or dice start upgrading to yellow. There are no opposed rolls; difficulty in a task means you add in purple dice to your roll (which can be "upgraded" to red dice.)
It's an interesting system. It reminded me a lot of fudge dice, only with two tracks of success rather than one.
|Less interesting, but a lot more intuitive.|
The session ended with space combat, a staple of any Star Wars game. I only mention it to point out that they haven't really done anything to improve the concept above what other systems try to do with it. Most games will put all of the characters in a single ship, relegating players to the role of pilot, gunner, or engineer. Pilots steer the ship and dodge incoming fire. Gunners create outgoing fire. Engineers try to keep the ship from falling apart in the midst of combat.
The individual roles are sensible, but only give the illusion of tactical complexity. If the ship acted as a single unit, you'd spend your turn weighing the choices of attacking, evading, or repairing (or the variations on those actions offered by different systems.) When those actions are spread out to each of the players, there's no choice to make. The player has a single button to press, so on his turn he'll press it. It's just not interesting gameplay.
Worse, most systems that include space combat as part of the gameplay also include character advancement options that include perks and talents for space combat. Fine concepts, but for most players this means diluting their character's effectiveness in one arena in order to shore it up in another, leaving a character who is mediocre on land or in space. Perhaps that works for some people, but I don't find that to be compelling.